Website translation trauma – is this YOU?

We just published this article on Open2Export, the new service supporting SMEs in exporting.

We all know it’s SO important to have web presence these days, and if your SEO guys know their stuff it’ll ensure you real visibility.

BUT, there’s a caveat – it DOES want to be visibility of something GOOD. Crass, obviously “translated” text is a real turn-off and WILL lose you business.

“But surely as long as it’s close enough it doesn’t really matter?”   Doesn’t it…? Really?

We’ve been translating for a German gas industry leader for over 7 years, and while researching a big project for them this morning I found myself on the “English” website of another German industrial giant. I was so moved by the appalling translation, I actually wrote to their Contacts page to point out some of the grossest bits – this MUST be losing them credibility, and with lost credibility goes lost sales… am I right?

The company concerned would like to sell in the UK – but having seen the poor quality of their website I’d now really question the quality of the product – and I certainly won’t be the only guy thinking: If they can’t be bothered to look after their own global shop window, how can I trust them to look after me?”. It’s high-end expensive engineered product too – just one lost sale would have PAID for that proper translation…

All the SEO in the world won’t compensate for laugh-making website translation, and what’s worse is that it can negate ALL the other money you’ve spent on promotion in that market as well.

And that marketing campaign may have cost tens of thousands – so PLEASE don’t screw it up by scrimping on getting your own “shop window” translated PROPERLY. It’s really not expensive – a typical 10-page SME website from a reputable provider may be as little as a few hundred pounds. Of course you’ll want to get several quotes – but please remember cheap language is cheap for a reason. Remember too the MoJ’s translation experiences…

It’s worth adding that while the Brits are generally forgiving – within reason – of clumsy language, most European managers are far less so. They’ll expect a professional website for a professional product – and will assume the reverse to be just as true. You may make the best widget in the world, but if the website translation makes it a laughing stock, you’re still screwed.

There’s more useful info on our own website translation page – and if you’re considering getting some translation done, here’s our Really Helpful Friendly Guide on how you can help yourself get the best product – whichever provider you choose.

I’ll close with a recent “emergency rescue” website re-write we did a few months ago for a client who – luckily for them – found us just in time. A UK SME had a product they’d told the French media about, and the French media loved it. Loved it so much, they did an editorial in Le Monde about it promoting the soon-to-launch French website!
4 days before the editorial was due to hit the street the client had their “professional” French website translation checked – and yes, it was awful. Not just bad, but really, REALLY bad. A brief panicky Google later they’d found us and we’d started the re-write, which literally went live about 1 hour before Le Monde hit the street. Now THAT really was just-in-time

September 14, 2012 - Advice export Translation




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  • […] can download a PDF on The Old Tramway here And we saw a treecreeper again! He saw so cute I photographed him – yes, it really was THAT […]

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